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Really struggling with new puppy(52 Posts)
We have recently become the owners of a lovely Labrador puppy. He is 13 weeks old, so we’ve had him for 3 weeks. And I’m finding it so. hard.
It’s absolutely not his fault. He’s a beautiful, intelligent, affectionate little thing. Yes, he bites, chews, and has accidents indoors but it’s obvious he has a lovely nature. He’s actually doing comparatively pretty well with his house training even though he does have the odd accident. He’s learnt to sit and his recall is (currently) pretty good.
We did do our research beforehand. I know everyone says that but we did. (I had dogs growing up but I’ve realised now how much bloody work my parents must have done behind the scenes to make them into the gorgeous friendly well-trained dogs that they were!) None of this stuff has come as a surprise to me, I knew it all in theory - the night time whining and toilet trips, the chewing, the biting, the jumping. But the theory’s different to the practice. It’s a bit like how when you have a baby, you go to all the ante-natal classes, you read all the books, and yet when the baby arrives it still knocks you for 6 even though you thought you had it sussed.
I keep thinking about re-homing him. Or asking the breeder if she’ll take him back. I feel so tearful and ashamed at the thought. I don’t want to be that dick who buys a cute ‘Andrex puppy’ then gives up after 3 weeks because the reality doesn’t match the advert. But equally I really can’t cope with things the way they are.
Has anyone got any words of wisdom? Will it get better, and if so, roughly when?
Thank you in advance!
You have the puppy blues. Lots of people, including me felt exactly the same. Many times I thought WTF have I done and if someone had magicked him away I would have been relieved.
It will get better. It is bloody hard. And you are not alone in how you feel.
For me it was when he started to grow up and show his adult personality. Then I started to bond and enjoy his company. I wouldn't swop him for anything in the world now but those early months were terrible.
What BiteyShark said. I also felt the same way with our first dog. It is hard but persevere and it will get better. It does take time though.
You said it already,it's like when you're pregnant but then you have the baby and reality hits and you think 'wtf have I done?!'
Puppy blues and really common I think, basically it's hard work shaping a pup into the dog you want it to be.
I agree with crate training and not letting him have free reign of the house,limit him to certain rooms.
It WILL get better.
(I feel like this about our cat but also wouldn't be without him)
Thank you so much for your responses. I know this might be a how long is a piece of string question but roughly how long might it take for things to improve? When did things get better for you? I feel like if I can say to myself ‘it’ll be loads better in 8 weeks’ then that would really help me mentally I think!
I must be the only person on this forum who didn’t feel like this with our pup , however I agree with persevere . I don’t see why cage training will help though unless the idea is that you shut it in the cage to give yourself a break which I totally disagree with . Can you explain what exactly it is that you are finding so difficult ?
I have no advice but I feel exactly the same! It's so hard!
My puppy is 13 weeks and it's the biting that worries me. He's constantly nipping and jumping and I don't know how to get it under control. Reading all the books and looking into puppy classes now. He hates walking on a lead and goes completely wild in the evenings between 8pm and 10pm?!
He's really good in every other way but this other stuff is really getting me down.
I felt exactly the same a few weeks ago. My puppy is now 18 weeks old now and has significantly gotten easier over the last month or so. She is now sleeping better, less bitey and I can't imagine being without her. I think it was when she had her vaccinations and so could start going out on little walks and meeting other dogs. Just hoping she doesn't have too bad a 'teenage phase'...
I have two dogs, the oldest is now 3 and the puppy is just a few weeks older than yours at 4 months old. I had the puppy blues with both of them, but it lasted longer with the first because I didn’t realise how common the feelings were and as going from no dogs to having one is a massive lifestyle change.
I have read that after about 3 weeks the puppy blues stop, then after 3 months you can’t imagine your life without them. It really does get better, and if you haven’t already do start taking them to puppy classes (my 4 month old did puppy socialisation and is now doing puppy obedience). Not only does it help with their behaviour, but it also gives you a chance to talk to people with dogs of a similar age going through similar things.
OP, every week that goes by he will get older and things will get easier.
A friend has a 10 month old puppy and he's SO different and more settled than 5 months ago when she first got him. Puppy training classes have helped and also fencing off a space in the house for him to feel secure and to stop him chewing up the whole house in one go
You're still getting used to each other, keep going
Hi FloralNomad, I think the things I’m finding tricky are:
- The broken sleep.
- The feeling of being unable to leave him - having to watch him constantly (I feel I can’t even nip to the loo). We are crate training him which has worked fairly well at night, but as you say I don’t want to just whack him in the crate during the day to get him out from under my feet.
- Interpreting his needs - sometimes he’ll just whine, even though I’ve fed him and taken him out. I don’t know whether he’s whining for attention or whether he’s got an a physical need that I need to address, like he’s in pain or needs the loo. A cuddle usually fixes whining but equally I don’t want him to learn that whining = attention.
- The fact that he has seemingly boundless energy yet becomes unbearable when he’s overtired. In other words he needs to sleep quite a lot - we notice a major difference in his behaviour when he’s had lots of sleep to when he hasn’t - but he doesn’t ever really seem to want to sleep. (Not dissimilar to a human toddler!)
I think also particularly in relation to the second and third points, he senses my anxiety, which makes everything worse.
Thank you so much for the replies. It really does help to hear that it’s not uncommon to feel like this because a major part of what’s upsetting me is the fact I feel like a shit human being for feeling like this!
The feeling of being unable to leave him - having to watch him constantly (I feel I can’t even nip to the loo)
Is there anywhere you can fence off with a baby gate? Utility room,corner of a room?
He's the equivalent of a tiny baby ATM, he needs lots of cuddles from you as you're his mum now. This won't last for ever, he'll get more independent as he gets older.
Bless you, I totally felt the same. I actually had a panic attack the night we bought our Lab home because I just felt that sudden "wtf!!!" feeling. I can honestly say it just slowly improves if you stick with it. I think by the time she was 4-5 months old I started to feel like we had actually got somewhere. She's 10 months old now and noticeably growing up. She doesn't chew our stuff anymore, she loves her walks but equally loves lounging around the house. She can be left with the run of the house for a few hours and not trash the place. It's all just falling into place and I finally love my dog. Totally adore her.
Stick with it, you're not alone and you're not awful feeling how you feel.
Our puppy is about 8 months now and the first few weeks were mind blowing. We realise now how good our older dog was as a pup! But he is settling a bit. Being a terrier, he really doesn't give a stuff about doing what he's told and runs around the house doing the 'la la, can't hear you' bit, rather as toddlers do. He does respond to food, so will come inside because he gets a treat, but isn't interested in coming to you any other time. He doesn't see the point of doing what he is told and he loves the sound of his own voice. He is a kleptomaniac to boot! But we love him, despite what hard work he is! And in truth, it is rather like having a baby in the house. You forget how hard it is.
Persevere, knowing there are lots of us out there in the same boat. Our one had 3 nights in a row of crying (only once did he need to do anything) but has thankfully settled again, because I am too old for nights of broken sleep. So things will improve, I'm sure.
Point 4 - Overtiredness turns puppies into monsters! Difficult with a puppy as you can't exercise them as much as you want, but too much mental stimulation can over stimulate them! So its a difficult balance.
You need to teach him to settle and amuse himself. Frozen kongs and chews for him to work on in his safe place (crate or bed). Keep moving the chew back onto the safe place, perhaps with a command 'settle' 'in your bed' etc, repeat until he stays there to enjoy the treat.
Plus some short sessions of very simple training exercises to tire his mind.
Baby gates or the small metal pens so you can section off a safe room or corner. Then put puppy in, with a toy or chew. Sit the other side of the pen with a book/tele etc, so he can see and hear you but not physically get to you. When he starts to settle down on his own, then you can try sitting a bit further away. Then try popping out the room for a few seconds, then returning. In and out of the room so he learns you will come back. Make sure he is happy and settling before extending the time you leave the room (ie for the toilet).
Puppies are hard. It does get better
The good news is that you are probably about to turn a corner. My 18 week old (golden retriever so hopefully similar to a Labrador) can now be trusted alone downstairs while I go to the toilet/hang up washing/ do anything I need to. The only time I shut her away is if I need to go out to do something, and overnight. She has been sleeping through the night without accidents for about a month (through the night is only 6 hours as my husband and I have different schedules). Daytime accidents are also incredibly rare now, we’ve only had two or three in the last 4 weeks.
At our training class they said not to molly coddle them, so if they are wining and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong, they have access to water and can go outside if they need the toilet, just tell them everything is ok (much like you would a toddler) and move on.
Our puppy is 13yr old in dog years so he's still not at that 'calm' adult dog stage- rather the teen stage!!
I'm watching thread with interest. Feel like it's an uphill battle. Our puppy is fully trained and sleeps through the night- it's the constant need for entertainment that tires us and we don't trust him to be let off the lead for a run about to burn off some of his energy on walks.
BlueMerchant I found that 2 years old was a massive turning point for my dog. That's when I really enjoyed having him. The adolescent years were the worst, and then it was like a light switch, he just 'behaved'!
Look at mental stimulation - treat feeders, puzzle games, kong wobblers, Nina Ottoman toys, frozen kongs, snuffle mats, lickimats etc etc
And then get a 30 ft training lead (not an extendable one), attach to harness (never collar) and either hold the end, or let it trail on the floor. He can have the freedom to run about, but you know you have 30ft to catch him if he does a runner.
Thanks Nesssie it's good to know. I'll be waiting eagerly for his 2nd Birthday 🌝
I've been told about these long training leads. I need to look into it. I've been picturing myself walking around with a huge lassoo contraption with my little pup on the end in another postcode.... I'm off for a Google now.
Crate training works for sleeping and gives the pup somewhere during the day to wind down. I don’t recommend it for punishment any more than sending a small child to their room. It adds structure and the pup learns when it’s bedtime.
I use a crate gently with my labrador and it is very successful.
Join the Facebook page Dog Training Advice and Support. There are files and files on how to deal with puppies - it will get better. Getting my second dog nearly tipped me over the edge at the time - mainly due to toilet training - which I solved by following the advice given on that page to the letter. There are no short cuts so you have to be consistent and make sure everyone sticks to the same plan.
Just echoing others really all normal and it really does get better.
We stay on a farm and have loads of dogs. Then three years ago we got a new pup for dh to work so oldie could retire by fire. Pup decided she didn't want to work and attached herself to me. She has been more difficult than all the others combined.
I remember standing in the park crying, because I had a meeting and she wouldn't pee. Exhausted and fed up.
I can hand on heart say that dog went on to save me from some very dark places and is my best friend in the world. I can't remember exactly when it changed but it did and it's so worth it.
It will be fine don't worry. One thing that really helped me was trying different activities with her. Eventually we settled on agility. I met new people and our bond intensified. We also do a bit showing so ring craft classes and I go to fun events locally. So large dog walks, fun classes like scent work or fly ball. We did puppy classes (twice) as well.
Why are you getting up in the night ?
How is the pup meant to learn to hold it until early morning if you are getting up to let him/her out in the middle of the night?
I have never done this with a pup and they have all been toilet trained by about 12 weeks.